Watch out, David Copperfield, you have competition.
The magician David Copperfield is credited with pulling off one of the greatest disappearing acts in history when he made the Statue of Liberty vanish.
Unfortunately for Lakers fans like me, Pau Gasol is doing his best to challenge David Copperfield for the title of "World's Greatest Disappearing Act" by becoming almost invisible for the second straight year on the big stage of the NBA Playoffs.
Pau Gasol's 2012 Playoffs Vanishing Act
Through six playoff games against the Denver Nuggets, Pau Gasol's statistics have plummeted when compared to his regular season productivity. Like a magician's assistant, Pau Gasol seems to have been sawed in half once the playoffs began.
In 65 regular season games in 2012, Pau Gasol averaged 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 50% shooting from the field. Through six games against a weak Denver frontcourt, Gasol's averages have dipped to 11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and a 41% field goal percentage.
As I have previously written, Gasol is relying too heavily on his outside shot against an undermanned Denver Nuggets interior. After struggling with his perimeter shot in Games 1-5, Gasol disappeared completely in Game 6, scoring just three points on 1-of-10 field goals. Gasol continued to drift to the perimeter in Game 6, attempting just four shots in the paint and going 0-for-5 on shots from 14 feet and beyond (shot chart here).
As a result of Gasol's timid inside play he has attempted just 11 free throws in six playoff games against the Nuggets. Pau's 1.8 FT's per game are less than half of the 4.0 he averaged in the regular season.
Not only has Gasol's offensive game dipped in the playoffs, so has his rebounding. In nearly 36 minutes per game against the Nuggets Gasol is averaging just 7.8 rebounds. To put this in perspective, Gasol's backup, Jordan Hill, is pulling down 8.0 rebounds per game in just 21 minutes off the bench.
And like a bad magician who repeats the same tricks over and over, as a Lakers fan I've seen Pau Gasol pull this disappearing act before.
Is Pau Gasol Repeating 2011's Playoff Disaster?
Pau Gasol's 2012 Playoffs disappearance is closely following his lackluster 2011 postseason performance. During the 2011 regulars season Gasol averaged a solid 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 53.0% shooting percentage. But in the 10 postseason games Gasol played in 2011 against the Hornets and Mavericks, his numbers dipped to 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 42% shooting.
In his last 16 playoff games between 2011 and 2012, Pau Gasol is averaging a disappointing 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 42% shooting from the field.
When the 2011 Lakers needed Gasol to step up in Games 2-4 against the Dallas Mavericks he responded with 11.2 points on 41% shooting as Dallas swept Los Angeles 4-0. Coach Phil Jackson was so upset with Gasol's lethargy that the normally composed Jackson thumped Gasol on the chest - hard - and yelled at him during a timeout, trying desperately to wake Gasol from his daze.
Compounding Gasol's poor 2011 Playoffs performance were the rumors that he was distracted after breaking up with his girlfriend. Following the Lakers loss to the Mavericks, Gasol was quoted as saying, "I collapsed." He was also quoted as saying, "I have to learn that when something happens off the court, you have to keep it off the court," admitting he was distracted during last year's postseason debacle.
In 2011Pau Gasol's heart and his head did not seem to be fully engaged in the playoffs. As a result, the Lakers season ended with an abrupt and disappointing playoff exit.
Through six games against the Denver Nuggets, history is repeating itself.
And unless Pau Gasol can suddenly recapture his regular season magic, the 2012 Los Angeles Lakers playoffs hopes will once again disappear.
Poof! Vanished, into thin air.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. More from this author: